Younger me believed in keeping my birth name as I grew into adulthood. I imagined my medical degree, white lab coat, name tags... the usual identifiers labeled with "Dr. Ho" in honor of my family. At 21, I had not planned on finding a friend who would embrace what it means to keep my family name. As a tribute to us, I sign all art-work GYang - a reflection of me, Ken and our life together.
In the art world, consider the name given to a painting; the title, even when labeled "untitled" suggests something about the work. Each painting holds stories not only about the art and its artist, but also stories imagined by its viewers. The deeper impact, beauty and wonder exist in these stories that live beyond the title and visual first impressions.
Recently finished: "finding common ground" (#BLUE no. 5, 6, 7) - 3 side-by-side canvases, each 24x36" mixed media (black inks, chalk pastels, dried flowers, glass beads, acrylics)
So when we meet, after that first, "hello, my name is..." I hope to have the chance to swap stories. It's about understanding who we are, what we don't know, how we care for one another and choose to be together... imagine the stories we share.
Dedicated to strangers, the ones unafraid to walk this path with me, with us
-- Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders --
it's worth repeating, Thank You.
In February, I started my #BLUE series with familiar materials: dried flowers, black inks, red glass beads, acrylic paints & mediums to create “hydrangeas” (36x36” canvas, #BLUE no. 1). Since then, I’ve been using varying sizes — 6x6” (each, no. 2, 3); 20x60” (no. 4); 24x36” (each, no. 5, 6, 7); 30x40" (each, no. 8, 9); 8x10" (each, no. 10, 11); 36x60” (no. 12) — to explore new ideas.
While working in my art studio, I listen — to the news, music, friends, family, or nothing but the movements around me: wheels of my easel rolling, birds living outside, Jinx barking at the delivery truck in our driveway, the tired hum of our 15-passenger van bringing Ken back home. And sometimes when I’m not painting, I’m reading. Admittedly old-school and nerdy, turning paper pages of hard-covered books and medical journals that arrive by snail mail are my favorites. Creating, working, listening, reading, learning... all reminders that I’m lucky to have another day.
Art reflects life — feelings & emotions, thoughts & actions, places & moments, friends & strangers. These days, the process of using blue in my art inherently reflects sadness: too many lives lost and devastatingly impacted by extraordinary events. I miss seeing smiles on faces, going to faraway places, being with you in person, doing seemingly ordinary things. Focusing on blue may seem ordinary, that is, before that initial curiosity grows with exploration. Then, using navy blue in series to reveal its potential — vast, far reaching, deep, peaceful, calming — becomes an unexpected source of joy.
As winter approaches, I’ll continue to take breaks from extraordinary. Look and listen in spaces without noise. Be curious. Choose from my stacks of favorites. Read. Explore new ideas. Learn. Make art. And hope you’ll find joy, perhaps even in something blue.
View process photos for #BLUE series, updated in Gallery.
Please continue to take care, be safe, stay well and mask up.
With deepest gratitude and love, this is dedicated to Dad (R.I.P. Sept. 2019) and Mom
...married 50+ years today.
As an artist, my work reflects life.
As a retired family physician, my mission to serve people
from different walks of life remains a purpose.
Amid the pain, suffering, dying and deaths, my heart aches for humanity.
I remain hopeful for better times when I see small and big acts of kindness
happening in neighborhoods, communities, nations ...all over the world.
Healing takes time.
** We're asking for patience & kindness from our community and wishing our 121 Vance Street project partners much luck with the start of demolition soon. **
Around 7am this morning, Ken took this photo on his way to work. By itself, it's a photo of a dumpster in a vacant parking lot, a quiet moment in downtown Clinton, NC. For me, seeing this photo, I'm hopeful for a brighter future.
I'm also feeling nervous, scared, sad and praying for the safety and health of everyone.
I'm saddened by the many lives lost and impacted by Covid19 and SARS-CoV-2.
I'm relying on experiences of past critical public health events that Ken and I have shared, working together in medicine and health care. And this reminds us, we're a couple of science geeks.
I'm trying to stay positive during this global pandemic.
I'm holding onto small & big sources of joy.
I'm making art.
I'm feeling lucky to have another day.
And I'm happy to see Ken come home at the end of each day. Our kids make me laugh and smile, always.
** We are grateful to have the love and support of family, friends, and a wonderful community. We miss seeing everyone. We're here, if there's anything we can possibly do for you. **
Please continue to take care of one another and stay well ❤️
** Grace & Ken **
Since 2003, I’ve been a “stay at home” parent. I decided to take a leave from the best job I ever had in order to spend more time with my kids. And being well aware of having privileges at the time, I’m most grateful for the unexpected moments... like when our 18-month old daughter said, “delicious” (not “yum” or “good”) to describe how lunch tasted.
My privileges (being married, being a parent, having a home, not being paid for working at home, etc.) included having had a job working 100+ hours/week, side by side with my friend, Ken to pay off school loans & a mortgage, save up when we could, and spend on extra things that nobody actually needs.
Of the extra things I thought I didn’t need, turns out “staying at home” has been the most important work I have ever known. Of the privileges, having extra time with my kids wasn’t extra. It was simply time. And if I’m lucky, what remains at the end of each day is another tomorrow.
This is dedicated to Kayla, our high school senior: oh my goodness, what a privilege it has been to be your mother! My love to you and your peers of today and tomorrow, may your days be filled with priceless “delicious” little moments.
To all the naysayers in my past...
I have dreamed, prepared, and set real life goals to get here.
I work hard, earn my keep
and I'm careful with what I earn.
I'm a bit exhausted, sometimes frustrated,
often times filled with joy and extremely grateful
for each person who knows.
As I look to the future, I'm taking this moment
to celebrate my love affair with art.
Happy Valentine's Day.
I love what I do.
It hasn't been easy.
But it has been fun, exciting, and deeply exhilarating
to defy all the naysayers who don't believe.
I am an artist ...because art matters ❤️
I'll be using these flowers, collected and dried over the last few years.
They reflect life events: births, weddings, anniversaries, friendships and deaths.
Dear young(er) artist,
At mid-life, I teeter on a blurry line between my youthful past and the golden years ahead. In this moment I'd like to pass on a simple mantra, artists make art. I heard it uttered by an art teacher as a kid, but didn't really get it until recently. In 2010 when I decided to make art my work, stepping outside the daily lines of work wasn't easy. After taking an intense sketchbook studio course in 2014, I learned to value the work of sketching as a productive art-making process.
No matter where you are between young and old, begin with a good hardcover sketchbook. Gather basic art supplies: pencils, pens, markers, pastels, paints, etc. ...and tape, glue, whatever else you'd like to experiment with. Then, consider these starting tips:
For viewing and learning, browse examples of my work available online:
With kind regards,
Thirty years ago, I laid eyes on him for the first time. I was too busy working, he kept going, and so we met only in my mind. A few years later in the spring of 1990, I remembered his face as he took the seat next to mine in Asian American Lit. He whispered that he forgot his copy of our class novel and asked to share mine. Days later when he forgot his book again, he was more interested in the scribbles on my notepad than the conversations happening in class. So when he started to write in the space beside my random sketch, I looked beyond his audacious reach and saw the words of a beautiful stranger who somehow knew my best-kept, best-friend secret of leaving marks on paper.
Those were the days when 'private messaging' came with the face-to-face thrill of meeting a new friend. As technology delivers bite-sized texts and character-limited tweets, I'm holding tight to one word that's slowly fading on my yellow paper: artist. Making art allows my hands to leave deliberate and purposeful marks on different surfaces to connect with another human. And when that one human becomes the person of my life, I hope the marks I leave will also keep our children connected. To this day, wherever he makes a point of sitting next to me -- in a restaurant, at the movies, on the soccer field bleachers -- I feel the luck of our twice-upon-a-lifetime first meeting in a classroom. So with him by my side, I'm working on a new series to feature hand-written messages that I'd like to keep from fading.
#breadcrumbs, FAMILY series
I am Chinese American.
I was a child immigrant and grew up to be a naturalized United States citizen.
Refugees and immigrants are people.
And bans on groups of people for the sake of fighting terrorism ...how?
People survive on love, kindness, understanding and compassion.
Terrorism feeds on fear and hatred; it preys on people globally.
No matter how you voted, if you voted
"We the people" includes you, me, and people who came
and will continue to come from different places.
I am American and a world citizen
who advocates for people-kind.
I will not be terrified into supporting hatred.
Oh yes, can't forget to wish everyone a happy *2017*
#chooselove #endhate #findpeace ...peacefully
My father has dementia. On good days when Dad has the energy to engage in conversations, he is pleasantly confused as to who, what, where, how, and most of all, why. And when flashes of his past seem to meet up with our present, I'm most happy he's here with me.
A few nights ago, while eating dinner, images of the last debate filled the TV screen and caught Dad's eye. We talked for a long time about the election, which reminded me of how we used to banter about politics. He could not name our current President, but he let me know how Hillary was married to Bill some time ago. I explained that voting would take place next month and making sense of the two candidates led to more-than-usual levels of confusion for both of us. Over and over, he circled back to pieces of his past to analyze "who" and "why." Of her, Dad said (in Chinese), "She's smart and powerful," and of him, "He's the shoe king, right?" Was he remembering 'Ivanka' brand shoes? I'm not sure. Regardless, Dad cracked a smile and my kids laughed a lot. So I asked Dad who he'd like to vote for? He said (in English), "Hillary Clinton, very smart. Not Trump," to which he added (in Chinese), "...he sells shoes." This made sense to him and me - in that moment, little else mattered.
Ironically, if we had been faced with two new-to-him candidates on TV, Dad may have had little or perhaps nothing with which to connect the dots. By the end of the night, more meaningful than his preference for the next President, my father finished eating his entire dinner and willingly smiled for several selfies with my kids and me. That was a good day.
This goes out to my kids as a reminder to listen a little deeper and try a little harder to make sense of life's confusing moments. Always #chooselove, especially in the years to come when I'm incorrigibly more forgetful than ever. xoxooooxox ❤️
view more pages in my #TrippingThisLife sketchbook
Owner of HYFA. Original art-work signed GYang. Artist, educator, and advocate ...because art matters. Retired Family Physician (MD)